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Goals and visions are part of any organization. Whether it’s business, church, civic organization or even as a family – there is usually some semblance of both of these. What gets me is when the two are confused as one.
So as far as the title, think about it this way… how would you fill in the blank? We are a church of: seekers / bringers / lost / redeemed / (enter some other churchy term). There really isn’t a wrong answer unless it’s no answer. When the church-goers don’t know the identity of their church, something may be amiss. That’s where the vision of the church and the goals of the church come into play. The people of the church should know what their church stands for.
So what is vision and what is a goal? A vision by definition (ref. Merriam-Webster) is “something that you imagine; a picture that you see in your mind” in this context. When the vision for a church is cast, the key to see it come to fruition of course is to share that vision with others. You have to let people in your head a little basically. That’s not a bad thing. There’s a greater sense of ownership and buy in when the vision is shared. It’s a unified approach to reaching it and that’s how the Church body can succeed.
A goal is defined as “something that you are trying to do or achieve.” Immediately you can see a goal leaves room for failure by definition… “trying to do.” We can and should have several goals in life, in work, in our family life – there really can be only one vision for each area. The goals should be building blocks to move toward that goal.
So how about a little test? If I were to say we want to reach 500 people per weekend, is that a vision or goal? If we said we wanted to raise $5000, is that a vision or a goal? In my opinion – those are both goals. They may be on a path toward a vision; but a vision they are not. What makes it harder for some to see the difference is when the goal is larger. We want to reach 50,000 people per weekend or raise $500,000 for this cause. Just because we add zeroes doesn’t make it a vision. It’s just a larger goal. 50,000 people may be a step in the vision to reach the lost in state or region of the country. The $500,000 may be a step in eradicating hunger in city. The second part of each sentence is the vision. That’s the share that is so important.
So reaching the lost or the eradication hunger are both fantastic visions. Those will get people on their feet and out in the community working hard at those goals. Those goals are still goals. By knowing the vision, they can really see the bigger picture. If all we said is we want to raise $500,000 people would look at us like we have 3 heads. What are you going to do with that money? The vision must be cast before the goals.
Something I think (and it may make some folks a little mad) is when a vision is met and you have hit the mark – it’s time to close up shop. If you have ended hunger in your city you can’t just keep fund-raising for a problem that is gone, right? So if you set a vision to have 50,000 people in your church each weekend and you get to 50,001 – your done. Lock the doors and go do something else right? Of course not, but if that’s the vision and not a goal, that’s what you are saying. Either that or you just stop letting people in and keep your 50,000. No more bringing people to church. Forget Easter and Christmas – there’s no more room at the Inn.
So this is my plea to leaders in church and in industry… have a vision that is perpetual and stay on course. You can change your goals along the way, but by golly don’t change the way. Jesus said it so well: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) He surely isn’t going to change that.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)